“That Guy” is such a popular phrase these days and it’s a term many of us have used — mostly in the context of not wanting to be “That Guy.” What do I mean by “That Guy”? Who is “That Guy”? For the sake of this article I sum him up in four fitting words: Male Hermione Granger Syndrome — the confounded know it all student in the Gryffindor House of the now classic young reader series, Harry Potter. If you wish, you may shorten this summation to MHGS, which should not be confused with any food allergies or other debilitating life circumstance.
Wanna learn more about identifying “That Guy”? He will have a special presence in three places. Here are those places and how “That Guy” will function in those places.
In Your Church
Here’s what “That Guy” looks like in your church.
When he comes for the first Sunday, he will immediately introduce himself to you, the pastor, after your service. He will kindly push back on a few matters from your sermon which need clarifying. He will likely grill you on a few areas of doctrine, particularly the doctrines of grace. He will then set up a meeting with you, which is really going to be a string of meetings that you will have over time.
He will be an avid participant in any learning environment, especially one where he may eventually have the opportunity to lead or teach at some capacity. He will bust out with all the theological lingo he can muster and, at this time, will use make trendy references to such men as Eric Metaxas, Deitrich Boenhoeffer, C S Lewis, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, and Karl Barth. He ought to get bonus points for mentioning them all! If he’s Southern Baptist he will likely name drop Al Mohler or Gregory Thornbury, but only the later if “That Guy” happens to be a hipster. If he’s Presbyterian then his go to will be Timothy Keller, quickly followed by Miroslav Volf, because that’s who Keller quotes.
Occasionally he’ll dominate conversations or discussion to the point where the discussion will be nothing like the direction it was originally intended to go. That’s okay because usually these discussions are lively. They stir many emotions in the participants. People will be more passionate about matters which waned in their life before. This is a very good thing and a benefit of “That Guy.” He will typically have extensive knowledge on almost every area of study and in whatever area of study he lacks he deftly avoids the subject or diverts the conversation back to an area of his mastery. All of it is a ploy to spread the propaganda that he is “That Guy” who knows stuff.
On Social Media
Now “That Guy” is not always a social media phenom. But sometimes he is. And boy oh boy will he shine on social media. He’s “That Guy” that walks into every twitter conversation and does one of two things: tweet blast the conversation with his line of reasoning or “I’ve got a link about that…”, which is always good for a few extra views on the old blog. Typically he’ll have a book recommendation on just about every subject. He’s not just the “ideas man” but he’s the “answer man.” He’ll have an answer or a thought on every conversation and he won’t help but give that answer.
At the Conference
But you won’t just find “That Guy” in your church or on social media, he’ll show up at conferences too. He’s “That Guy” in the crowd of “Those Guys” all waiting to meet “That Speaker” after he speaks to tell him the mind blowing revelation contrived while listening to that speaker. It’s a cocktail of that-ness.
Between sessions, on the sidewalks, or in dining room booths throughout the conference he is “That Guy” that is excitedly gesturing and talking about a mightily disputed doctrine as if he has the resolution for world peace in his hands. He’s basically the N T Wright who is astounded that no one in the world has ever recognized the glaringly obvious discovery that he has just made.
Why Am I A “That Guy” Expert
Good question. I’m glad you asked. I have an answer for you.
Yep. I’m not sure whether to identify myself as a recovering “That Guy”, an adjusted “That Guy”, or just a tired “That Guy”. But I’m probably one or all of those three. Either way I have had my fare share of the MHGS. And boy did I have a bad case.
I mourn so much about the angst I carried around as a “That Guy” in my early twenties. I’m not even quite sure when I adjusted. Honestly, I’m sure of moments when I’ve relapsed. Often times, now in my early thirties, I find myself recoiling when I see “That Guy” trolling around. Why? Well, when you put one “That Guy” in a room with another “That Guy” you either have a sweet symphony or WWIII. It all depends on if you can get the two to agree. And even the most adjusted “That Guy” has the tendency to relapse when he gets too near another. The syndrome is a contagion.
How To Respond To “That Guy”
No doubt “That Guy” is either seminary bound, in seminary, or just leaving seminary. And if you happen to be the pastor, you will want to take him home and train him. That’s right. There’s a part of you that will think, “Ahh, that guy’s cute!” And I mean that in the amused puppy sort of way. You, the pastor, will grow immediately fond of “That Guy.” Why? Because he is a guy just after your own heart. You recall when you had that same level of intensity. You’ll find it a little refreshing, because, after all, it has been some time since you had that kind of intensity around you.
Or maybe you happen to be the lucky lady destined to receive “That Guy’s” affection. O, how I pray for you. I pray that you are sweet, gentle, kind, and a somewhat sassy gal, because “That Guy” needs to be sassed.
Or finally, you’re just a normal old person wandering the wide world and you’ve encountered the not so rare “That Guy” in the wild.
If you’re any of those three, then listen up to some real brief tips.
1. Encourage “That Guy”. What he really longs for is affirmation. Give it to him.
2. Appreciate “That Guy”. He’s offering you all his answers because he sincerely wants to help and contribute. Look for ways to be grateful.
3. Empower “That Guy”. This is tricky. Too much power is bad for “That Guy”. But he needs to be utilized, or he’ll shrivel up and die. Give him a role and a place to serve and lead.
4. Listen to “That Guy”. We all want to be listened too. He more so than anyone. Lend him your ear and give him a hard stop time. He needs to know there are always boundaries.
5. Pray for “That Guy”. He’s likely to be a leader that will make vast contributions to the Church. Pray that the Lord will protect him from the hubris to which he gravitates. Pray that he will be protected from evil. Pray that he would do much to magnify God’s glory, not his own.
I hope you find this whimsical character sketch to be helpful. These tips, though brief, will go a long way in loving “That Guy”. And “That Guys” really needs your love; it’s likely he did not receive the healthy dose of it that he needed elsewhere.
This post was first posted at Joey’s blog and is posted here with his permission.